An EU project on tsunami risks and strategies for the European Region (TRANSFER) and contribution by the Istanbul University

Altınok Y. , ALPAR Ş. B. , Özer N. , Ünlü S., Aykurt H.

International Geo-Hazards, Research Symposium, Organized by the International Geo-Hazards Research Society (IGRS), Turkey, 1 - 04 March 2009

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • Country: Turkey


Historical records going back about 3000 years reveal that Turkish coasts have been affected
by more than a hundred tsunamis. Almost 40% of these tsunamis occurred in the Sea of
Marmara while the rest were concentrated in Fethiye Bay and the gulfs of Izmir and
Iskenderun. The Sea of Marmara tsunamis mostly affected Izmit Bay, Istanbul coasts, Gulf of
Gemlik, Kapıdağ Peninsula and Gelibolu coasts. One of the best known and most disastrous
earthquakes occurred on September 10, 1509 and caused high damage from Edirne in the west
to Bolu in the east. A co-seismic tsunami caused waves as high as 6 m which overtopped the
city walls of Istanbul and invaded the streets in Yenikapı and Galata. Even not worse than this
a very strong earthquake on April 3, 1851 in Mediterranean caused flooding in the town of
Fethiye which was about 1.8 m above the mean sea level.
In order to understand and determine the tsunami potential and their possible effects, some
comprehensive studies and projects with international collaboration are needed. TRANSFER
(acronym for "Tsunami Risk ANd Strategies For the European Region") is a European
Community funded project being coordinated by the University of Bologna in Italy and
involving 29 partners in Europe, Turkey and Israel. The core of the project is related to risk
associated with tsunami generation in the Euro-Mediterranean region and their impacts, and to
the related strategies to manage, control and deal with such a risk: hence risk assessment
methodologies and risk reduction policies, from prevention to mitigation, are main subjects of
the project.
The work packages within the TRANSFER project are as follows: tsunami catalogue, tsunami
seismic sources, tsunami non-seismic sources, analysis of instrumental signals and networks
for the development of a tsunami early warning system, improvement of numerical models,
probabilistic and statistical approaches to estimate tsunami potential and impact, production
of inundation maps, scenarios of large tsunami impact and risk assessment and reduction, and
data management and dissemination. There are seven test areas selected in different countries
facing the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Two of these test areas are in
Turkey; which are the Istanbul coasts in the Sea of Marmara and Fethiye Bay in the
Mediterranean Sea.
The contribution of Istanbul University covers; inclusion of new events or updating of
existing events through paleotsunami studies at 5 different localities, inclusion of new events
or updating of existing events of historical (pre-instrumental and instrumental) times,
inventory of the seismic tsunami sources, characterization of the tsunamigenic seismic
sources, investigation of tsunamigenesis from historical earthquakes and description of nonseismic
tsunamigenic sources and inventory of relevant available data on and near the Turkish
coasts. The results are being used for the test areas, in order to develop tsunami scenario
approaches, to assess vulnerability and risks, and to define prevention and mitigation
measures. The outcome of the projects and related data will be disseminated to the public.